Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name

















  I was walking with my daughter and granddaughter down at the cannery a few weeks ago. It was cold but sunny  and a little exercise was just what the doctor ordered to shake off the feeling of cabin fever. I looked down at the gravel on the beach and noticed splashes of color scattered along the shoreline by the water's edge. Kaylahni also noticed it and started picking up flowers that had washed ashore. I'm not sure where they came from. Obviously someone had tossed them into the water- I assume after the flowers had pretty much already wilted. However, that didn't stop my granddaughter from gathering them up. I wasn't sure that it was a good idea to do that. What if the flowers were from a memorial service somewhere? However, Jen didn't seem to have a problem with it, so for the remainder of the walk the mostly dead flowers made the rounds with us. I assumed that they would get tossed once we got to the car, but no, they were transported all the way home and into a vase with water. Apparently some of the flowers were still good, so why get rid of them? Jen is one of these people who wants to get the maximum use out of everything. She had a three wheeled stroller she used to push Kaylahni in. The kid was like four years old with her legs hanging out over the side and her hands dragging on the ground. The wheels were starting to buckle from the weight and still she insisted on pushing her around. I was almost embarrassed to be seen walking with her. The Jack O' Lantern that was carved ten days before Halloween can still be seen on her porch at Thanksgiving, it's features having sagged into a lumpy, pulpy mess. Heaven forbid that it should get tossed if you can still see some orange coloration. I dropped by Jen's for a cup of coffee the other day and she mentioned that all the flowers in the vase were dead now. Of course she hadn't removed them yet. I don't know why, perhaps she's waiting until I die so she can use them one last time.
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day's End

 
 

 
 
 
I'm still trying to get used to this new computer, so I don't know how this is going to turn out. For a change I really don't have much to say either, which is kind of odd since I can be such a windbag at times. Perhaps I should take up the bagpipes I'm so long winded on occasion. I like the way they sound, but I don't relish the idea of having to wear a skirt when I'm playing, especially if it happens to be a windy day.Can you imagine having to stand outside in the summer with all the gnats and mosquitoes flying up your kilt? I guess you wouldn't mind a little breath of wind then. I suppose it's probably unheard of for a bagpipe man to wear panty hose if it's too cold out. I imagine leotards would be looked down upon too.  I'm not all that fond of funerals, which is where I usually hear bagpipes being played. I might be popular at a St. Patricks day parade, but if the route was too long I'd have to stop and find a place to pee, which of course would throw the rest of the procession into a tizzy. Of course finding a place to practice would be a real challenge too. The house would be out of the question with the dog there- he'd probably want to sing along and before you know it he'd be asking for his snack with an Irish lilt to his bark. There would probably be signs springing up around town with a picture of a bagpipe inside a circle with a slash through it. There might be a revival of that old song about "Momma don't allow no ....... playing in here. In the song you would fill in the blank spot. In my case the song would be, Momma don't allow no bagpipe playing in here, momma don't allow no bagpipe playing in here. Well I don't care what momma don't allow, I'll play my bagpipe anyhow... and so on. I wonder if any bagpipe players get asthma or COPD. That would put a real crimp on the income. What happens if instead of blowing into it you suck the air out... would your lungs expand like a balloon? I see I'm going to have to do some research on these things now. What a strange idea to create an air sack for making music .I have an air sack, but the sound it makes doesn't sound anything like music, and I'm quite certain the notes I could play would be unwelcome at just about any funeral, or parade for that matter. What did they use for the original bagpipes, an animal bladder? Can you imagine the first guy who invented one trying to get his friends to join in the band? You'd have to be salesman of the year to pawn that idea off on someone. "Yes Sean, just stick your flute into the pig bladder, blow into it and listen to great new sounds it produces." Do they have music books for bagpipes, or would there just be one page of songs? I've yet to see Yanni incorporate them into any of his songs, although he's utilized the duduke and the didgeridoo. Well, somehow I managed to turn these perfectly tranquil scenes above into something totally unrelated to the pictures. I don't know how that happens, but nothing that I do really surprises me anymore. In any event, if you don't like what I've written, feel free to take the pictures and write a more fitting scenario. I guess I better get busy and find out what I can about bagpipes.


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Prince of Blankets


Well, here I am again, in my usual state of confusion and uncommon frustration. I'm using a new laptop that I had purchased, or more accurately will purchase when I get the bill from my son-in-law. I needed the laptop for the boat so I can download a GPS program that is more up to date than what I have now. Anyway, not only am I trying to get used to this new computer, I'm having issues with  the internet. I know, I know, it's shocking. Somehow I managed to get one picture downloaded for this blog post. I don't know what I did to download it, and I don't know where the other ones are that I took. I'm sure they're floating around inside this black  box, but I don't know the magic words to make them come out. Kind of like my brain when I'm searching for a word. Having a dictionary or thesaurus won't help at all if you don't know what word you want to use to begin with.
  Some years back there was a movie called The Prince of Tides. I remember watching it, or part of it, but I couldn't tell you what it was about to save my soul. I did like the title though, so I'm putting a little twist on it to describe our dog. Without question, in this house, he's the Prince of Blankets. If you look closely, you can see his little black snout sticking out from the edge of the afghan.  He's got the afghan that his grandma made for one of the kids, the green blanket that Jan had made some years ago, probably for another one of the kids, he's also laying on a soft, fuzzy acrylic "blang" that covers his double layered dog bed, then I have to cover him with my favorite blanket when I go to bed so that he'll slumber comfortably all night. Then there are a couple of blankets that we covered the couch with so he doesn't tear it up when he's jumping up onto the back to look out. Then of course he needs to rest on the couch after so much serious searching out the window and has to be covered again. It's really rather nauseating. We've become the people that I used to hate; those obnoxious clowns who spoil their pets and have multitudes of pictures of them and speak to them like they're babies. It's just plain pitiful. We had to send him to the vet a few days ago because he had a fatty tumor on one of his dog boobs. He looked like he needed a one cup bra. We put off sending him in, I guess hoping it would go away on it's own., like that would ever really happen. So, much to all of our sorrow, we had to stuff him in a cage and take him to the airport. Of course there was all kind of crying and whining going on... and you should have heard the dog too. I really felt bad for him. The poor little fellow couldn't even have breakfast before he left. You know, when you can't have sex, and you can't eat, life pretty much comes to a standstill when you're a dog. The only thing left to do is sleep, and who the heck can sleep in a crowded kennel? In any event, he made it over and back the same day and we all  had a pleasant reunion. As you can imagine though, the operation cost an arm and a leg, and as much as I would like to make him get a job to help out around the house, I guess we'll be hung with the bill. Perhaps we could get his Aunt Jill to teach him how to crochet and he could make me a blanket.
 

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Tongass















 For the better part of thirty seven years I've been blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I know that every area has it's own brand of beauty, but for me, this area of Alaska, the Tongass National Forest has no equal. It has the best of all worlds for me- forests, streams, bays, mountains all things that I love. Because of the remoteness of the area and the difficulty of getting around, there isn't a large population inhabiting the surrounding towns. The whole 17,000,000 acres is only home to roughly 70,000 people, and those are spread out over a handful of towns up and down the Southeast Panhandle. At thirty some thousand souls, Juneau, the state capital, is the largest town. Some of the other towns with relatively large populations are Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. Then we have Craig, Hydaburg, Tenekee, Angoon, Hoonah, Kake, Metlakatla, Thorne Bay, Gustavus, Elfin Cove and Pelican. I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting, but obviously, population wise, none of them are all that large. There are also a number of little settlements that may not have a proper name or post office- the Hobbit Hole out in the Inian Islands and Excursion Inlet, across Icy Strait. It started off with a couple of canneries there, now there are two or three fishing lodges and a number of cabins that folks have built up against the mountainside. Back in the years before Alaska was a state there were dozens of canneries up and down the coast with transient populations. Once fish traps were outlawed, many of the canneries were abandoned, leaving behind buildings and machinery to rot in the wet environment.
  Here on Chichagof Island, where Hoonah is located, I think we have one of the largest Brown Bear populations in the world with roughly one per square mile. That's a lot more bears than there are people here. The Tongass is largest national forest in the country, about  seventeen million acres,with over five million designated wilderness. I guess because it's a national forest, many people feel like they should have a say in what happens here. It's both interesting and frustrating to hear different views on what should be going on here, mostly by people who don't live here and have only the slightest idea of what life is about in a rain forest. I've listened to loggers who've wanted to mow down every tree and environmentalists who want everyone to get back to nature. I don't know if they wipe their behinds with corn cobs or nettles or if they break down and buy toilet paper.  We get cruise lines in here who act like they discovered Alaska- if it were up to some of them there would be a jewelry store and tee shirt shop on every point. Many folks would just like for things to return to the way it used to be and others would like to see roads connecting every town up and down the panhandle. It's a balancing act, and one that I hope continues for at least as long as I live. We need some roads and some logging and some tourism. Like everyone else we want good jobs and opportunities to pursue happiness without having to sacrifice our way of life. I hope we never have a government that leans too far one way or another in managing the Tongass. I suppose as long as everyone is unhappy to some extent, things are going just the way they should be.